"Is that blood?"
Jake furrowed his brow in confusion for a few seconds. He brought his hand to his face, and when it came away bloody, it seemed to click.
"Fuck," he muttered. Amy was already halfway across the room for the first aid pack. "No, no, it's fine." Jake called out. He had got his hands on a box of tissues and was mopping up his face. "I think it's okay. The guy got my nose."
Jake was talking about the perp he had just brought in. Apparently, there had been a pretty cool chase, but the guy had got a few punches in before Jake got him down. And it seemed like Jake hadn't noticed until he was back at the precinct.
Amy hesitated, almost in reach of the first aid pack, but she returned to his side. He wouldn't use it if he didn't want to, and she figured it wasn't worth the protest. Jake was one of the best detectives in the precinct, and him not even noticing an injury was pretty funny. However, him bleeding all over the break room table wasn't.
"Didn't even break it. Weakass." Jake was laughing.
"That looks like it hurts, Peralta" Amy said casually, watching him bloody up tissues using only his face.
"Doesn't everything?" He answered. "I mean... we're cops, right? I've seen ten times worse than this."
"...Yeah. But that doesn't mean you don't fix something if it’s not life-threatening."
"Amy. I went eleven years without going to the doctor. Would've been more. I'm tough. Plus, awesome scar, am I right?" He saw the judgmental look on her face and made to get up. "Well. I guess I better go process that perp. He could be involved in that big case I'm working on."
"You look like shit, Peralta."
"Wow, thanks. You look nice too."
"Jake." She was using that tone, the one reserved for him alone. "You don't even want an ice pack?"
"Amy, I'm fine."
Amy regretted not forcing him to use the first aid kit when he came in the next day with a newly formed black eye.
Rosa Diaz wasn't cuddly. She wasn't kind, she wasn't emotional, she was not weak. She couldn't remember the last time she cried. She was tough as nails. She climbed out of windows after she broke up with people, she smashed things when she didn't like them and she always had some kind of weapon on her, legality be damned.
This stuff made her tough. Lacking emotion, breaking things and being able to take on anything and anyone was what made her… not-weak. And because Rosa Diaz wasn't weak, she couldn't help the weak. Which is why she was stuck like a deer in headlights as soon as she stepped foot into the evidence locker.
She had needed a file. That was all. She wanted her file. But she couldn't exactly walk around the thing on the floor. The obstacle was called Jake Peralta, and he was sprawled on the ground, sobbing. He faced the ceiling, and he had a few manila folders in one hand. Rosa realised it might be seen as slightly rude if she stepped over him, and believe it or not, she found that she did care for the members of the nine-nine. Especially thousand-push-up Jake.
God, maybe she really was weak.
She stepped over to him and ducked down into a squat next to his ragdoll-ish body. This was going to be hard.
"Jake." She said, harshly. "Get up." He didn't react. Damn. She stayed there in silence for a few moments, lost for words. "What's wrong." It didn't sound like a question. But Jake let out a shaky sigh, so he was listening at least. But it wasn't an answer. This was too hard.
"Okay. This isn't going to work."
She would go without the file. She started to get up, but Jake had reached for her wrist. She immediately snatched it out of his grasp, but he had her attention.
"Please don't go." His voice sounded shaky. Oh boy.
"Okay. Get up." He did nothing. She took the folders out of his hand and held them in front of her, squinting at the small text. "Are these making you cry. Do you want me to burn them." She was reaching for the lighter in her back pocket when Jake shot up and snatched them from her.
"Rosa! These are important!" He wiped his eyes with his sleeve. Gross.
"Why are you crying then."
Sniff. "This is just a little difficult."
"This is that big case you're working on, yeah?" It was the first question that actually sounded like a question.
He drew in a shaky breath. "Yep." Jake pulled his knees up to his chest and turned his attention to the files in his hand. "This is terrible. Total dead end." He wiped his face again. Still gross.
"Well, you're not going to get anywhere here. Get up." Jake yelped as Rosa grabbed his arm and hoisted him onto his feet. "Also. Get a tissue. It's gross."
Jake let out a sigh. At least he sounded better. "You're right."
"Of course I am. Also, your face looks like shit." It really did. It was all weird and red and puffy, and he also had a black eye that he hadn't had a few days ago. He kept on flinching when he wiped his eyes. It would have been funny if it weren't gross.
"I look awesome." Of course he thought he looked awesome.
"No, you don't." She interrupted before he could interject. "Do you want to ask Holt to put someone else on the case to help you?"
"What? No! I'm fine."
"Jake. You were just there. Crying. On the floor. People don't do that when they're fine."
"It's just stress relief, Rosa." He had the joking tone back in his voice. His eyes were still red.
"You're full of shit, Peralta."
"Rosa, I'm on top of this. Now, I gotta look at this stuff." And Jake left. Leaving Rosa to watch him walk away.
"Idiot" she muttered, as she went to find that damn file.
The men’s door swung closed behind Charles as he searched for a paper towel. He grabbed a handful and started trying to wipe the mess off his shirt. Charles' white shirts and marinara sauce didn't mix well.
He jumped when he heard a cough. He hadn't noticed anyone in the bathroom. But slumped against the wall in an open cubicle sat Jake. His best friend.
"Jakey, you okay?" Charles called from the sinks. No answer. On closer inspection, Jake looked... groggy? He seemed paler than usual and there were dark bags under his eyes. "Jake?"
Jake suddenly sat up and leant over the toilet bowl. He was heaving. The paper towels fell to the ground as Charles rushed over to his friend's side.
"Jake! Jake? Are you okay? Oh my god, Jake?"
"Hi, Boyle" he said weakly. He sounded like he could barely speak. He slumped back down against the wall and let out a noise like a wounded animal.
"Jake? Are you sick? Oh, did you eat something bad? Do you want me to do anything?" Charles was becoming increasingly frantic.
"Calm down, Charles. I'm fine."
"No, you are not fine, Jake! Food poisoning?”
"I don't know, Charles. Can't be, I haven't eaten today. And now I don't really want to."
"Jake, you're looking a bit... off" Jake rolled his eyes.
"Everyone's saying that."
"Because you are! Jake, you look sick and exhausted. You have a black eye!"
He scoffed. "Charles, I would expect you of all people to think I look tough."
"You do, Jake." he assured. "But it's not good. You should go home. Get some rest."
"Absolutely not! Boyle, I have to keep working this case."
"And you just threw up in the bathroom! I'm sure the criminals can wait another day."
"No, they can't! Charles, I'm not going home. This is just... a minor setback." Jake Peralta was stubborn. There was no winning once he made up his mind.
"I said, it's okay, Boyle." He was speaking through gritted teeth. "Go back to your desk."
"Charles. Go. I'm fine." Charles knew he wouldn't get much work done that day as long as he was worrying about his friend. But he sighed, and turned to leave.
"Wait, Boyle." Charles spun around so fast he nearly toppled over. "Just... don't tell anyone. Please, Charles."
"You have my word, Jake."
Charles told everyone.
Jake and Gina were standing behind the glass of the interrogation room, watching Terry interrogate a perp. Gina bounced on her soles, clearly uninterested in the interrogation.
"This is fun, Jake. We should hang out more."
"Sure, Gina." Jake had been dealing with Gina Linetti since childhood.
"Has anyone told you that you're not looking so hot, buddy?" Gina grabbed his face in her hands. "You're lookin' a lil parched, pal."
Jake swatted her hands away. "So I've heard."
"And you look like you were in a gang fight. Where'd the big eye bruise come from?"
"Perp. I told you."
"No gang fight? What's even the point of being a cop?"
Jake laughed, but he stopped abruptly. Gina glanced over and realised her friend looked sickly. Worse than before.
"Jake?" She reached over to shake him. And then his legs gave way.
Gina caught him before he collapsed onto the floor. Panicking, she laid him on the ground as gently as she could. "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, Jake? Jake?" She started to poke his face, and he woke with a loud gasp.
Gina let out a sigh of relief and went to help him sit up. "Come on, boo."
He rubbed his head as he got his bearings. "Why am I on the floor, Gina?"
"Really, Jake? You just went-" she made an ambiguous hand gesture.
"I think you just passed out, kiddo."
"Did I?" He looked utterly baffled. Jake was never the sharpest tool in the shed.
"Why else would you be on the dirty, dirty floor, Jake? You didn't take a nap."
"Very funny, Gina."
"My question is why? You feelin' okay?"
"Yeah, of course. Not right now, though. Little nauseous."
Gina passed him a water bottle and he downed it in twenty seconds.
"I'll go tell Holt to give you the rest of the day off." She made to get up and leave, but Jake stopped her.
"No way! I have to get stuff done!"
"Jacob. You just passed out in the interrogation room. You're sitting on the floor. I'm not letting you go back to work."
"Well, luckily, you don't have to let me do anything. Because I am fine." He stood up too fast and wobbled for a few seconds before he went for the door.
"You're an idiot, Jake. I'm talking to Holt."
"I'd like to see you try, Linetti." And with that, Jake turned and left.
Raymond Holt was concerned for Jake Peralta. In fact, he usually was. His constant joking in the face of danger, his obsession with his absentee father and his total lack of any social filter was cause for concern for anyone who had ever met the man.
But recently, it had been different. Worse. Holt had received several reports from his best detectives about worries they had for their friend. From Rosa's "He was crying. Gross," to Gina's mention of Jake 'passing the fuck out', Holt was beginning to suspect that something wasn't quite right.
Holt watched the detective from his office. He had been staring into space at his computer. It wasn't unusual. Peralta was often distracted while doing paperwork. But as the day went on, it seemed stranger. On most days, he'd eventually snap back to reality, groan dramatically and loudly and go back to his work, or back to bugging Santiago.
But today, he stayed inanimate for a worryingly long time. Several times throughout the day, Holt had approached him and cleared his throat loudly, or announced his presence with a sharp "Peralta!" He would jump about a foot in the air, and turn quickly to his computer. But after barely five minutes, he'd slip back into his near-comatose state, staring blankly and emotionlessly at the screen, occasionally scrolling down the page, only responding when jolted back into the real world. It was a slow day.
Most of the office was gone. Holt was leaving his office when he noticed Peralta. Still at his desk, staring unseeingly at his monitor. Plausibly, he could have been in the same position all day. He might not have even noticed the office emptying. Holt approached him. No response.
"Peralta?" The detective jumped.
"Captain! Didn't see you there."
"The precinct is close to empty. The night staff will be arriving soon. You should finish your work."
"Thanks, captain, but I think I'll stay a while. Getting some work done, ya feel me?" Peralta was always painfully informal.
"Incorrect. You've done, quite literally, nothing today, Peralta."
"You heard me."
"Did Amy snitch or something? Because if she did, she's lying."
"No. You did so yourself, considering you barely moved today." Jake sighed.
"Okay, so maybe I wasn't 'that productive' today-"
"-but I need to get this done."
"Is this the Mueller case?" Holt asked, picking up one of many folders spread out on the desk. He wondered how anything was found in that mess.
"You know it, sir."
"I understand that this is very important to you, but perhaps you should take a break."
"Go home, Peralta."
"Sir, with all due respect, I have to finish this up. I'm fine."
"That's an order, detective."
Jake stared at his captain in much the same way a child would when told to go to bed.
"Go home, Peralta. Now."
Jake shot him a dirty look, and Holt let it slide. He turned off his computer and collected his things.
Jake walked into the briefing room, eyes scanning the tables. Most of the squad were at the desks, and all eyes were on him.
"Sarge? We didn't have a briefing scheduled."
"Yeah, we didn't. Take a seat, Jake."
Jake slid into his usual seat and turned to Amy.
"Do you know what this is about?"
Before Jake could ask any further questions - and he had a few - the captain cleared his throat, and turned to address the room.
"Thank you all for coming on such short notice. As you know, we're here to talk to Detective Peralta."
Jake choked. "Sorry, what?"
"Peralta. Recently, you've seemed..." he paused. "Disgruntled."
"I think what the captain is trying to say," Terry took over, "is that you haven't really been yourself lately."
"What? That's ridiculous!"
"Shut up, Jake." Rosa might have sounded more pissed than usual.
"I've received reports from the squad of some odd behaviour on your part. And have noticed some myself."
"Captain, I don't know what these guys have been telling you but-"
"Well, based on what they have been telling me, you're in no condition to work."
Jake huffed loudly. "I'm fine."
"No, Jake," Terry interjected. "You're not. Listen to the captain."
"Peralta, I'm sending you home now."
"Captain, it's ten in the morning!"
"Yes, I know."
Jake was having difficulty forming his words. "I need to do this!"
"Detective, you are not to do any more work today. Also, I'm putting Santiago and Boyle onto your case. It's far too much work for one person."
"This is non-negotiable. Go home, Peralta."
Jake groaned loudly, and Amy pushed him out of his chair. As he picked himself up and started to drag himself out of the briefing room, the captain spoke up.
"You are also to inform me when you're suffering due to work. I do not want to hear it from your colleagues."
He groaned louder as response, but Holt knew he had heard.
Jake left the precinct at 10:24am.